The pandemic triggered all organizations to consider how they can optimize internal processes, maximize productivity, and gain a competitive advantage. In-house law departments are no different. Hybrid working means that legacy processes that were considered an inconvenience when everyone was working in the office are now more visible in a digital format. In-house law departments need to fully address these demands. Given that every process has up and downstream activities, and each one has the potential to leak efficiencies, steps need to be taken to minimize missed opportunities, ensure cost savings and increase productivity, while enhancing perceived value through the eyes of internal customers.
What is Sterling Process?
Sterling Process is our structured methodology that helps identify opportunities to increase efficiencies, eliminate variance in existing processes and reduce costs. Our teams combine practical experience of undertaking process improvement projects in a law context, with relevant techniques that have been applied from Lean thinking and Six Sigma principles, to meet your in-house law department's needs.
We apply Sterling Process through three stages. Throughout each stage, we employ established practices used across many industry sectors to determine the processes that have the most up and downstream activities, which in our experience, have the greatest potential for improvement. Once these processes have been identified, we begin to identify unnecessary steps through process mapping workshops, supported by powerful visuals and structured facilitation, to determine existing pain points, unmet needs, and future opportunities.
How Do We Do This?
Stage 1: Process Diagnostic
Our methodology is applicable to all internal processes. Our first steps are to engage with you and your teams to understand:
- The problem, goals, and desired future state.
- What success looks like for your teams and end customers. This a key feature of Six Sigma, known as “voice of the customer.”
Measure current performance:
- With the in-house law department’s objectives in mind, the next step is to understand how the existing process works. This is the “current state” definition. The measurement phase seeks to establish a baseline before changes are implemented.
- The analysis phase is where our team looks critically at each step in a process, to assess the best ways to make improvements.
- If the key metric of value is to reduce the time taken for a particular process, the team may consider revising or eliminating steps throughout the process.
Stage 2: Develop Solutions
In this phase we develop potential solutions to address the issues diagnosed in phase one. Here, we pilot solutions before any full-scale implementation takes place. This pilot is intended to be applied to a sub-set of the existing process, to determine whether the proposed solution is viable.
Stage 3: Implement The Updated Processes
In the final stage our focus is on implementing the updated processes and identifying ways in which the process can be reviewed on a going forward basis.
Through a formal review or a simple follow-up conversation with all required parties, we conduct a “lessons learned” session to identify additional improvement opportunities. These opportunities are "graded" based on the potential value of the proposed changes, together with the likely resources and time needed to implement them.
Finally, we provide support by undertaking a formal knowledge-sharing handover to support the ongoing sustainability of maintaining these processes, including running a similar exercise independently in future.